Surveillance and Data Retention

Whenever your computer makes a connection online it makes a copy of the information you are accessing, which can be a negative thing because this connection becomes data that stays online forever (Mitew 2014). This data is stored in an aggregate for the purpose of surveillance, and as our lives become more permeated by the internet, we create even more data that can be extracted and aggregated (Mitew 2014).

This aggregation of data is terrifying to think about because it is stored in centralised and controlled databases. This idea is becoming more pertinent to the Australian public as the new Data Retention Law became active on 13 October 2015, which says your phone and internet communications – only to whom, when, where, and how you communicate will be recorded, the content of your communications are safe, for now – and must be retained for the next two years by service providers.

In an article by Max Chalmers, embedded tweets from Edward Snowden tell us that “surveillance is not about safety, it’s about power. It’s about control.” This may well be true, as an article by Robin Doherty lists a series of agencies that will be able to access our data without seeking warrants. Although not listed, should we be worried about the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), a member of the ‘Five Eyes,’ being later included?

Doherty’s article also provides some useful links to technology that will allow the public to protect their phone and internet communications. Some examples include: TextSecure, RedPhone, and IPVanish.


Mitew, T 2014, Dark Fiber: Hackers, Botnets, Cyberwar [Part 1], Online Video, YouTube, viewed 14 October 2015,

SamsungTomorrow 2014, Samsung Introduces the Galaxy K zoom, a New Camera Specialized-Smartphone, Image, Flickr, viewed and modified 14 October 2015,


Are you gonna curate that?

With the advent of the internet and the explosion of content, legacy media models have begun to flounder in the new information age. Where news used to be in the hands of the gatekeeper, it is now in the hands of the masses, the prosumers, also known as gatewatchers. What becomes valuable in this period is the endless cycle of massified information production, aggregation, and curation.

This cycle is characterised by Bruns when he talks about gatewatching, which he says is “conducted on a far more ad hoc, decentralised and crowdsourced basis than has been possible for gatekeeper journalism.” Like the permanent beta, this cycle is continuous and unfinished. This cycle lends itself to what Bruns describes as ‘deliberative journalism,’ where conversation is the vehicle for production, aggregation, and curation.

Take Twitter, for example, where meaningless individual tweets join together to create the resonant effect of a story unfolding as they are aggregated with hashtags and curated by comment and analysis. Johnson sums up this unfolding of a story by describing it as “a suspension bridge made of pebbles.” In a world where information is abundant, coherence is key. We gain this coherence through the valuable, and often scarce, services of aggregation and curation, which gives information value, because it suddenly transforms from being confusing to clear.

Bruns, A 2009, News Blogs and Citizen Journalism: New Directions For e-journalism, EJournalism: New Directions in Electronic News Media, New Delhi, BR Publishing, pp. 01-20.

Johnson, S 2009, How Twitter Will Change The Way We Live, TIME, viewed 19 September 2015,,8816,1902604,00.html

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 1], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015,

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 2], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015,

Mitew, T 2014, Bridges Made of Pebbles: Social Media and the Rise of Gatewatchers [part 3], online video, YouTube, viewed 19 September 2015,

Israelson, N 2009, Bulgaria Pollution River, image, Flickr, viewed 19 September 2015,

Note: I have modified Israelson’s image.